If you’re considering having laser eye surgery, you need to have an in-depth discussion with your eye surgeon about potential risks. People with certain conditions or lifestyles may need to rethink having the surgery at all.
Here’s what your doctor needs to know before you have laser eye surgery.
Weighing the Risks
For people with certain medical conditions or lifestyles, the risks of having laser eye surgery go up considerably. Some of the things to talk to your doctor about include the following:
- Medical conditions, including family history, especially regarding lupus, diabetes and keloid formation
- Any eye diseases you or your family have had, including herpes simplex, glaucoma, dry eyes, eyelid infections or previous eye surgery
- Whether or not you play sports where you are likely to take a hit to the face (for years after having LASIK, there is a risk that the flap could dislocate)
- Career plans, as some occupations, such as police officers and pilots have specific vision requirements that can be realized with laser eye surgery
Regarding your career, it’s a good idea to talk to your current or future employers about your plans for surgery, too, just to be sure that your plans won’t affect your opportunities for employment.
You need to have realistic expectations. For instance, if you are over the age of 40, you will probably need reading glasses after laser eye surgery and your eyes will continue to change as you grow older, meaning you may need prescription glasses or contacts again at some point.
Also, there’s a chance that you may need a second surgery if you don’t get the right amount of correction the first time. Most health insurance plans don’t cover laser eye surgery for vision correction, so cost is another factor to consider.
It’s important to keep in mind that the long-term effects of laser eye surgery are as yet, unknown.
How to Minimize the Risks
Health Canada offers the following guidelines to help increase the likelihood of a successful outcome after laser eye surgery:
- Choose your eye surgeon carefully. A referral from your own eye care professional is the traditional method.
- Thoroughly discuss potential risks, as well as the benefits with the surgeon. Tell the surgeon your expectations to see if they can be reasonably accomplished. Read the “informed consent” form thoroughly and ask questions.
- Make very sure you are a suitable candidate for surgery before you make the decision to go ahead.
Your pre-operative report should include information about your pre-operative vision, refraction reading and the shape of your cornea. Ask your surgeon for a copy of this report and keep it in a safe place for future reference.
You can reduce your risk of complications after surgery by fully complying with the follow-up care recommended by your eye surgeon.